Spring Wildflowers

Spring Wildflowers

Local Getaways - Great Getaways - Spring FlowersNow that springtime is here, it’s time to get outdoors and pay homage to Mother Nature’s handiwork. Blooming orchards, bright swaths of field mustard, and splashes of roadside poppies signal the crescendo of wildflower season, which is building to a peak now and should continue into mid- or late May on the coast and in the Central Valley, depending on the weather. Late-winter rains created ideal conditions for a bumper crop of blooms. So why wait? An overnight getaway with a floral focus is a great way to welcome the spring season.

 

WILDFLOWERS IN THE WINE COUNTRY
Local Getaways - Great Getaways - Spring FlowersNorthern California wine country is at its most colorful in spring, when brilliant yellow field mustard (planted for purposes of pollination) blooms in the vineyards, gardens blossom at the wineries, and bright stands of poppies, paint brush, lupine, sun cups, and other wildflowers spring up on public lands. If Napa Valley is your destination, check out the showcase plantings at wineries such as Beringer, Chateau Montelena, Clos du Val, Clos Pegase, Domaine Chandon, Hess, Mondavi, and Rutherford.

If you’d like to take a break from winery tours, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, on Highway 29/128 between St. Helena and Calistoga, is a great place to stretch your legs, have a picnic, and go searching for spring blossoms.

Another popular spring bloom getaway in the Wine Country is Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma Valley, which features several flower-strewn hiking trails. It’s located at 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen, about 20 minutes north of Sonoma.

Local Getaways - Great Getaways - Spring FlowersSPRING BLOOMS IN SAN FRANCISCO
One of San Francisco’s greatest assets is the green space that punctuates the city and the Marin Headlands beyond. Of the dozens of special gardens in Golden Gate Park, most recognized are McLaren Memorial Rhododendron Dell, the Rose Garden, Strybing Arboretum, and, at the western edge of the park, a springtime array of thousands of tulips and daffodils around the Dutch Windmill (a photographer’s dream).

The non-profit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy offers a broad schedule of interpretive activities to help visitors appreciate the many natural resources protected under the park-service umbrella. Among the flower-empowered events on the Conservancy calendar in April and May are Wildflower and Native Plant Walks along the Presidio’s seaside bluffs and Marin’s rolling hills, and volunteering at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery. For information on these activities and many others sponsored by the Conservancy, go to www.parksconservancy.org.

Tip: The Hotel Palomar, one of the top luxury hotels in San Francisco, is currently offering special rates starting at $145 when booked at LocalGetaways.com. See our Hotel Deals for details.

Local Getaways - Great Getaways - Spring FlowersTHE COLORFUL FLOWERS OF CARMEL
April and May are the best months for coastal wildflowers, and this picture-perfect village is ideally situated for outings that may offer up views of whales, otters, and sea lions along with ice plant, poppies, and other colorful blooms. The famous 17-Mile-Drive at Pebble Beach passes through some of the most gorgeous scenery (and real estate) in California and is well worth the $9.25 per vehicle gate fee. Or, take scenic Highway 1 to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and soak up some whaling history along with wildflowers and dramatic coastal views.

To the south of Carmel lies Big Sur and two state parks—Garrapata and Andrew Molera—within daytrip striking distance. Carmel River State Beach also is nearby.

Tip: The Carmel Mission Inn makes a great base for excursions along the coast and is currently  is offering a super-low rate of $129 per night via LocalGetaways.com. See our Hotel Deals for details.

 

Now that springtime is here, it’s time to get outdoors and pay homage to Mother Nature’s handiwork. Blooming orchards, bright swaths of field mustard and splashes of roadside poppies signal the crescendo of wildflower season, which is building to a peak now and should continue into mid or late April on the coast and in the Central Valley, depending on the weather. Late-winter rains created ideal conditions for a bumper crop of blooms. So why wait? An overnight getaway with a floral focus is a great way to welcome the season.

SAN FRANCISCO One of San Francisco’s greatest assets is the green space that punctuates the city and the Marin Headlands beyond. The nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy offers a broad schedule of interpretive activities to help visitors appreciate the many natural resources protected under the park-service umbrella. In spring, when wildflowers carpet seaside bluffs and color Marin’s rolling hills, many outings have a floral theme. A naturalist-led excursion can be the perfect centerpiece for an urban weekend.

Nine wildflower hikes are on the spring calendar. They include a photography hike in the Marin Headlands on March 28; a wildflowers of Wolf Ridge hike on April 4; a wildflower ramble at Mori Point on April 4; Golden Poppy tour in the Presidio on April 6; a Coastal Trail wildflower wander on April 19; a Muir Beach wildflower walk on April 19, a Muir Woods spring wildflower hike on April 22; a Milagra Ridge wildflower walk on April 21; and a Muir Woods wildflower walk for kids and parents on May 4. For descriptions and registration information, go to www.parksconservancy.org.

Tip:The Hotel Adiago, a Joie de Vivre property at 550 Geary, offers tons of personality to go along with a special rate of $95 for room only or $105 with parking, available exclusively through LocalGetaways. Upgrade to a junior suite for just $25 more.

NAPA VALLEY Northern California wine country is at its most colorful in spring, when brilliant yellow field mustard (planted for purposes of pollination) blooms in the vineyards, gardens blossom at the wineries and bright stands of poppies, paint brush, lupine, sun cups and other wildflowers spring up on public lands. If Napa Valley is your destination, check out the showcase plantings at wineries including Berringer, Bouchaine, Montlena, Chimney Rock, Clos du Val, Clos Pegase, Domaine Chandon, Hess, Mondavi and Rutherford. If you’d like to take a break from winery tours, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park  www.parks.ca.gov), on Highway 29/128 between St. Helena and Calistoga, is a great place to stretch your legs, have a picnic and go searching for spring blossoms.

Tip:Treat yourself to a night at Meritage Resort and Spa, a luxury property at the intersection of Highways 29 and 221, for a special rate of $127.20 that can be booked only at LocalGetaways.

CARMEL April is the best month for coastal wildflowers, and this picture-perfect village is ideally situated for outings that may offer up views of whales, otters and sea lions along with ice plants, poppies and other colorful blooms. The famous 17-Mile-Drive at Pebble Beach (www.pebblebeach.com) passes through some of the most gorgeous scenery (and real estate) in California and is well worth the $9.25 per vehicle gate fee. Or, take scenic Highway 1 to Point Lobos State Reserve ($10 parking fee) and soak up some whaling history along with wildflowers and dramatic coastal views. To the south lies Big Sur and two state parks – Garrapata and Andrew Molera – within daytrip striking distance. Carmel River State Beach also is nearby. For maps and information on interpretive activities, go to www.parks.ca.gov.

Tip: LocalGetaways offers a super low rate of $199 midweek and $239 weekends at the landmark Highlands Inn, a great base for excursions along the coast.

DAFFODIL HILL A perennial pilgrimage spot for travelers from Sacramento and the Bay Area, this four-acre farm near the hamlet of Volcano, in Amador County, is planted with more than 300 named varieties of daffodils that produce an estimated 300,000 blooms. No, they’re not wildflowers, but they’re guaranteed nonetheless to put an ear-to-ear smile on your face. Optimal time for visiting this year is estimated around the last week of March and first week of April. WHERE TO STAY: Central Gold Country Hotels

WILDFLOWER TRAINS The Western Railway Museum in Solano County (www.wrm.org), repository of Northern California railroad history, is worthy of a visit any time of year, but April is special. Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the month, the museum operates Scenic Limited excursion trains that take visitors 10 miles roundtrip down the old Sacramento Northern Railway tracks south of Highway 12. There’s no telling what will be blooming, but museum docents will be onboard to interpret what’s there. Admission, $10 general, $7 for children 7-14, includes the train rides. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the nicely landscaped grounds. WHERE TO STAY: Sacramento Hotels

CACHE CREEK NATURAL AREA One of Northern California’s most renowned areas for wildflowers is Cache Creek Natural Area (www.blm.gov/ca/), comprised of about 75,000 acres of state, county and BLM lands in Lake County. Floral displays along the Redbud Trail are known to be especially showy. This year the BLM is offering a series of four-hour guided hikes to view and photograph the blooms. Dates are April 1, 8, 15 and 28, with a final outing scheduled for May 5. WHERE TO STAY: Santa Rosa Hotels

RUSSIAN RIVER REGION Healdsburg, Guerneville and other towns of the Russian River Valley offer quick access to scenic-driver arteries including Westside Road, River Road and Dry Creek Road, where vineyards vie with public lands for attention. At Armstrong Redwoods State Park (www.parks.ca.gov), self-guided nature trails meander through magical redwood groves where delicate spring wildflowers compete for light with low-growing ferns and shrubs The adjacent Austin Creek State Recreation Area is more open and known for brilliant meadow displays of iris, lupine, paintbrush, buttercup and shooting stars. WHERE TO STAY: Healdsburg Hotels

SONOMA COUNTY Should your search for flower power lead you to Sonoma Valley, check out Bouvier Preserve (www.egret.org/bouverie.html), a 500-acre private property near Glen Ellen that offers naturalist-led wildflower walks by reservation on April 4, April 18 and May 2, 9 and 16. Also near Glen Ellen is Jack London State Historic State Park, a memorial to the writer who made his home here from 1905 until 1916. It features a museum and several flower-strewn hiking trails.  www.parks.ca.gov. WHERE TO STAY: Sonoma Hotels

JEPSON PRAIRIE Tours of one of the few remaining vernal-pool habitats in California are offered Saturdays and Sundays through May 11 at the Solano Land Trust’s Jepson Prairie Preserve near Dixon. Vernal pool shrimp and many rare flowers and other plants can be seen. For Information: nrs.ucdavis.edu/Jepson.html). WHERE TO STAY: Sacramento Hotels

PACHECO STATE PARK Every Saturday and Sunday (except Easter) starting today and continuing through April, park naturalists will lead a two-mile hike to view wildflowers from overlooks above San Luis Reservoir west of Los Banos. A second hike each day leads through more flower fields to the first adobe house built in Merced County. For reservations call 209-826-1196.

And if you have your own tips and recommendations on great spring wildflower getaways throughout Northern California that you’d like to share, feel free to add your own comments to our blog below. We’d love to hear from you.

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By Pooley / Administrator

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on Apr 25, 2010